"I did hear from him, yeah, he texted me and he said congratulations and some really nice words, and it meant the world when I saw the text pop up," Kotb told Entertainment Tonight following her promotion. "My heart just went like, you know, it meant the world to see that."
Kotb also revealed she has stayed in touch with Lauer following his swift firing in November for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
"You know, Matt is our good friend and continues to be, and I think for both of us, we've just been trying to navigate this time and honor our love and friendship with Matt, but also understand and try to learn more about these circumstances," the new co-anchor said. "So, it's complicated when you are surprised by revelations, but you still care deeply for somebody who's a friend. I think for all of us, we've just been trying to navigate through that, with straightforwardness and honesty and integrity."
Since Lauer's termination, Kotb has kept his seat warm alongside co-anchor Savannah Guthrie for the 7-9 a.m. weekday broadcast. Today's ratings skyrocketed during the interim period, beating ABC's Good Morning America as the top morning program in overall viewership for the longest period since August 2016.
"This has been a really hard time for this show that we love and the people who put the show together — we care so much — and having Hoda right with me every second of the way has meant everything," she told ET. "And we kind of held onto each other, and then discovered along the way that there's a real partnership here, and so how wonderful that now it's permanent, we get to just do it every day."
Guthrie announced Kotb's new role as a Today co-anchor on Tuesday, more than one month after she began filling in for Lauer. Kotb, who has been employed by NBC News since 1998, will also continue to host the 10 a.m. hour with Kathie Lee Gifford.